…that I will grieve as much, and for as long, as I feel like grieving, and that I will not let others put a time table on my grief.
…that I will grieve in whatever way I feel like grieving, and I will ignore those who try to tell me what I should or should not be feeling and how I should or should not be behaving.
…that I will cry whenever and wherever I feel like crying, and that I will not hold back my tears just because someone else feels I should be “brave” or “getting better” or “healing by now.”
…that I will talk about my loved one as often as I want to, and that I will not let others turn me off just because they can’t deal with their own feelings.
…that I will not expect family and friends to know how I feel, understanding that one who has not had the loss I have experienced can possibly know how it feels.
…that I will not blame myself for my loved one’s death, and that I will constantly remind myself that I did the best job I could possibly have done. But when feelings of guilt are overwhelming, I will remind myself that this is a normal part of the grief process and it, too, will pass.
…that I will commune with my loved one in whatever way feels comfortable and natural to me, and that I won’t feel compelled to explain this communion to others or to justify or even discuss it with them.
…that I will try to eat, sleep, and exercise every day in order to give my body the strength it will need to help me cope with my grief.
…to know that I am not losing my mind, and I will remind myself that loss of memory, feelings of disorientation, lack of energy, and a sense of vulnerability are all normal parts of the grief process.
…to know that I will heal, even though it may take a long time.
…to let myself heal and not to feel guilty about feeling better.
…to remind myself that the grief process is circuitous – that is, I will not make steady upward progress. And when I find myself slipping back into the old moods of despair and depression, I will tell myself that ‘slipping backward” is also a normal part of the grief process and these moods, too, will pass.
…to try to be happy about something for some part of every day, knowing that at first, I may have to force myself to think cheerful thoughts, so eventually they may become a habit.
…that I will reach out at times, and try to help someone else, knowing that helping others will help me to get over my grief.
…that even though my loved one is dead, I will opt for life when and as I am able.
Adapted from New Year’s Resolutions for the Grieving by Ronnie Walker
Connie Palmer, LCSW is the Clinical/Training Director of Imagine: A Center for Coping with Loss located in Westfield, NJ. Imagine provides grief support groups for people of all ages. Go to imaginenj.org for more information.